The guest speaker for the second week of the PLENK course has been Martin Weller – what a treat! The link to the recording of his Elluminate presentation is here
Basically – his talk was about how depressed he is that research is not ‘keeping up with the times’ in terms of advances in technology and networked learning. I am a new researcher – but I can so completely relate to this.
So what did he say? These are the key points as I interpreted him –
- researchers are not making full use of the new technologies available to them
- they are risk averse and work in ‘traditional’ mode
- they work in small personal contexts, often with the same groups of people and do not make use of network possibilities
- they don’t like the spontaneity of blogs
- they are conservative and cautious
Why are they like this? Because they may not have tenure and therefore have to ‘fit in’ with University requirements. If you want tenure you are encouraged to be traditional and are therefore less likely to be innovative or take risks. Research is about ‘control’ – particularly for scientists seeking predictive models, whereas the very nature of working in Web 2 is the exact opposite. We don’t know what will happen in Web 2.0. It is unpredictable.
Martin then went on to discuss the changing nature of research as evidenced by the number of people who are publishing in blogs , experimenting as they go along, turning to people in the network for peer review. However, there are difficulties with this as I have already posted here following a discussion with Matthias.
What I found particularly interesting in Martin’s presentation is that it was directly relevant to how I have recently been working. I am a new researcher. My first two papers were both published following the traditional pattern.
1. K. Guldberg, J. Mackness (2009) Foundations of communities of practice: enablers and barriers to participation. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning
2. Rhona Sharpe, Jenny Mackness (2010)Evaluating the development of a community of e-learning researchers: from short-term funding to sustainability International Journal of Web Based Communities 6 (2) p. 148
These two papers are in closed journals. The second has received one expression of interest via email. The first has received about 15 expressions of interest via email.
Following participation in CCK08 John Mak, Roy Williams and I published two papers in the open environment of the Networked Learning Conference. We had also published drafts of the papers in the CCK09 Moodle site before submitting them to the Networked Learning Conference. This felt much more like an ‘open’ process.
Blogs and Forums as Communication and Learning Tools in a MOOC John Mak, Sui, Fai, Roy Williams, Jenny Mackness (2010) Networked Learning Conference, Aarlborg p. 275
The Ideals and Reality of Participating in a MOOC Jenny Mackness, John Mak, Sui, Fai, Roy Williams (2010)Networked Learning Conference, Aarlborg p. 266-274
Presenting these papers at the Networked Learning conference was disappointing from my perspective
, but George and Stephen invited us to present the Ideals and Reality paper again in an Elluminate session
and that was much more rewarding. We were able to ‘talk’ to more people and this made the research seem more worthwhile.
Recently, I have gone one step further with Matthias Melcher, in working for many weeks/months on a paper on e-resonance and simply publishing it here on this blog – but the process we worked through was not open to all.
The points that have arisen for me in all this are:
1. If we want research to be open there are two stages to consider – the actual researching and then the publishing.
2. Being ‘open’ at the researching stage might invalidate the research. There are difficulties associated with confidentiality and ‘ownership’ of ideas and writing.
3. Open publishing also brings its difficulties. How can the work be measured/peer reviewed?
I suppose all this brings in to question what we understand by research. There was discussion in the Elluminate ‘chat’ about the boundaries between learning and research becoming blurred and Stephen posted that ‘Learning = Research’. I thought at the time that this depends on how you define research. Who is it for? What is it for? How will the ‘network’ influence research and will research be able to influence the network?
I really enjoyed Martin’s talk, but I was left wondering whether we had really got to grips with how research will be influenced by networked learning and Web 2.0. My experience is that there are still an awful lot of people in HE (where a lot of research currently happens) who are working in institutions with high research ratings, with outstanding publications records, but who are not connected on the Web in the sense that we have been talking about. This indicates that good research has been and continues to be published without the Web or being networked. I think we need to think more/be more explicit about what might be lost by giving up this ‘traditional’ system and more explicit about what we can gain by being more ‘innovative’.
I thought Martin could perhaps have been more explicit about why his really good presentation was relevant to a PLENK course.